A team of scientists wondered if people would be more willing to get a flu vaccine if, instead of receiving the traditional shot, they could instead choose to wear a microneedle patch. For this, the researchers carried out a small test, whose results are now available in a new paper.
A Microneedle Patch To Ensure the Yearly Flu Vaccine?
The study and test were conducted in 2015. At the time, the team recruited 100 adults, aged between 18 to 49 years old. Neither had received the flu vaccine in the 2014 to 2015 season. Then, the participants were divided into four, equal-sized groups.
One of the groups received the traditional flu shot, while another got the microneedle vaccine patch. A third group was asked to wear a placebo microneedle patch. The fourth and final group members were invited to put this patch on themselves. Before this, they were asked to watch a short, instructional video.
This shows that the patch can be applied on the back of the wrist and then pressed down with the thumb until the user hears a click. This means that they can let go. Twenty minutes later, the patch can be removed and simply thrown away. During the 20 minutes, the microneedles dissolve, and the vaccine is released in the body.
The dissolvable microneedle vaccine patch is about the size of a thumbprint. It comes with 100 needles that are some 0.03 inches long. 50 of the study participants tried one on, and 48 of them stated that its application did not hurt. Instead, they felt a “tickling or mild tingling sensation”.
A Possible Patch Vaccine Future?
According to the study results, patients that applied the patch themselves had the same response as those whose piece was placed by specialists. These latter measured how much of the vaccine was left in patches from both groups, and found no differences.
They also determined that the immune system response of the participants to the vaccine was just as strong in both the patch and the flu shot groups. Follow-ups showed that no participant in either group got the flu in the ensuing six months.
A month after receiving the microneedle patch, 70 percent of the people stated that they would prefer getting their flu vaccine each year through this same method.
Now, the study team will be looking to carry out a larger trial. They will also be further analyzing at the efficiency of the patch in delivering the flu vaccine. Or its potential in other vaccines as well. Study results are available in the journal The Lancet.
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